On reinventing oneself

Why is it so difficult to present a new version of oneself to the world? I've done it quite a few times, and I am about to do it again (below), which is exhilarating – but I never fully escape the lingering sense that I'm a fraud, and about to be found out.

For a long time, like many people, I defined myself by my job. This was satisfying because I worked as a feature writer for prestigious publications, and was read by lots of people. But I always felt that parts of me were missing. It felt like time to move on from John-Paul 1.0.

After publishing Sew Your Own, and How To Change The World, it seemed like a natural development to train as a coach.

But it took me a long time to call myself a coach publicly. The main block was a voice in my head telling me that my colleagues in journalism would think I had gone weird, or soft, or had thrown in the towel.

It took a little while to realise that other people can – and will – think whatever they like, and I can't do anything about it. But I can choose to disregard the voice in my head. So I did a TEDx talk about being a coach – as well as everything else – and getting the new story “out there” again seemed to do the trick.

Now, I'm about to publish a novel – a historical novel.

It's a cracking story, but the nasty voice is back, shouting: “Who am I to write a historical novel? Or any novel, for that matter. I'm just a non-fiction writer. Nobody will want that.”

So once again, I'm choosing to ignore the voice, and put the new version of me out there. And I'm feeling better already.

If you could reinvent yourself, what would you become?